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Heads of Department Update 27 October

Study Arrangements for Term 2


I’ve got a couple of significant updates for you – the first is more consultative (although I only need feedback if you have strong views); the second is probably for information/awareness and maybe something that you will need to share more widely. I’m going to do these update as two separate emails as there is a bit of detail around the term 2 issue and I don’t want the other message to get lost.

I’m aware that some of you will have started to received enquiries from students about arrangements for Term 2, particularly with respect to the options for continuing to study online for non UK domiciled students and for UK-domiciled students with special circumstances. You will recall that we had taken the view that Term 1 online was an option for those who genuinely could not get to campus to participate in the blended offer, but that we would expect arrival on campus for Term 2.

Given the evolving situation around travel/access to the UK and the changing circumstances in the UK, we do need to reconsider our position and determine what the best approach to Term 2 would be. We don’t need to decide now but we do need to decide on a position in the coming weeks so that students and departments can plan. I had hoped that we might be able to discuss this at the next “ARC with HoDs” meeting on Nov 10th, but I now think that we may need to start this discussion rather earlier.

The issue will be particularly relevant to those Depts with significant number of non-UK domiciled students currently studying remotely. There are a number of options we could consider and I’d welcome any views that you might have. Options could include:

  1. Stay with the existing position – students have to arrive on campus by the start of Term 2 in order to participate in a blended learning programme (risk of high numbers of drop-outs/TWD);
  2. Extend the option to study online for Term 2 for those who cannot get to the campus (whether because of travel/visa issues or for special circumstances) (risk around growth in fee refund requests and loss of campus experience);
  3. Allow study online for the remainder of the academic year for those who cannot get to the campus (whether because of travel/visa issues or for special circumstances) (risk as above but possibly greater than in option b).

As ever, we will need to try to ensure a consistent approach across departments in so far as we possibly can so that we are treating students equitably. However, if we were to consider options b or c then there will be real challenges for those Depts that have significant lab based/practical components and they may simply not be able to support this sort of offer. And there will be related complexities around visa and home country recognition of online degrees.

There is a parallel strand of work that is looking at some of the obvious practicalities, but I’m keen to get feedback from academic depts. at an early stage in these discussions. If this isn’t a big issue for your Dept, then please don’t feel that you need to respond. But if you have any particular views that you would like to input into discussions, could you let me know? In particular, feedback would be welcome on:

  1. Any strong preferences in terms of the options above (Option b probably gives us most flexibility and keeps options open for Term 3 and beyond although if students don’t get here for Term 2 then it might be reasonable to assume they would be unlikely to arrive just for Term 3)?
  2. Have you any sense of what your students might want/prefer?
  3. Is it practical to continue to deliver a blended and an online offer beyond Term 1 (which might depend on numbers/proportion of students currently studying purely online)?
  4. To what extent are you dependent on students being physically on campus for lab-based or practical work?
  5. Do you have any sense of the latest position in terms of those who have been able to arrive than those who are still studying online?

I don’t think we need immediate answers (and you may not want to or be able to answer all these questions) but if you could feed in any strong views by the end of the week or early next week, that would be really helpful.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE

Security and Building Access


The second update (as promised earlier) – a bit shorter and perhaps easier to share.

Security and Vandalism

Recently there have been several instances of unauthorised entry, vandalism, and theft of equipment from a number of our academic buildings. We’re obviously something of a target because the campus is quiet and individuals can access buildings relatively easily. To ensure that we protect staff and students who might be in buildings as well as protecting the buildings and their contents, it has been decided to suspend the "open on approach" external door setting that has been in place on a number of buildings. This ensures that only genuine members of the University can access University Buildings. So, from this week, all buildings will revert to swipe card access (Many buildings already have this in place and so there is, therefore, no change).

Outside of teaching hours we are operating the Library, Junction, Oculus, UH and Westwood buildings over extended hours and weekends with SEAs cover. So there is a range of student space available.

As an additional measure we have aligned Student Experience Ambassadors shifts with teaching activity and are locking CTTRs at the end of each day. The Cleaning Team will open rooms on weekday mornings. Moreover, UG/PGT student access to these buildings has been limited to the teaching day only so that we avoid unnecessary health and safety risks associated with an unsupervised presence.

In addition to these measures, please can you check any policies for internal doors and ensure that appropriate card access is also required to gain entry to departmental spaces. Additional touch-point cleaning is in operation and personal hygiene measures apply, so there should be no reason to leave doors unsecured. You may also need to review your postage arrangements if you post isn't being delivered via the University internal system.

Finally, please could you ask that colleagues remain vigilant and report any security risks or incidents. Please don't assume that someone else has reported it. Be particularly aware of "tail-gating" into buildings and avoid opening a door for someone you do not know. Several of the individuals responsible for some of the incidents of vandalism were seen by staff members who decided that it wasn’t necessary to report them!

There will be some communications to students on this – probably after the next meeting of Campus Operations Group which is tomorrow morning, I believe.

Many thanks


Professor Christine Ennew OBE